Sylvania might be somewhat off the beaten path, but we think that's a good thing. There are plenty of reasons to come visit us and plenty of opportunities to discover unique and historical places in a part of Georgia where life is not as hectic nor as stressful.
Who says you have to travel to California for a winery experience? You won’t want to miss the gorgeous vineyard and winery of Shannon Vineyards in Sylvania. You’ll truly feel as if you escaped to paradise. Add a tour of downtown to your itinerary and you’ll be amazed by what you discover in Sylvania.
From the nation's oldest state welcome center to a renovated soda shop art gallery on our historic town square, Sylvania offers a variety of interesting things to see and do.
Jim Shannon sold his North Carolina farm in 1989, moved his family to Sylvania and started Shannon Farms. In the beginning Shannon Farms grew tomatoes, produce and other traditional crops. The Shannons planted their first vineyard in 1991, growing grapes grapes for the table, juice and wine. They decided to start producing wine to diversify the business and sell a nonperishable and value added product. Shannon Vineyards released its first six wines in October 2008 and now has has more than 200 acres dedicated to Muscadines.
4197 Savannah Highway (US 21 North) in Sylvania, 912-857-3076. Visit website.
Guarding the northern end of Sylvania are a pair of Civil-War era 12-pound Napoleon cannons. The obsolete field artillery guns, which take their name from France’s Emperor Napoleon III, were donated to the city for memorial display in 1913, and today reside in the Old Courthouse Park. The guns have a bore of 4.6 inches in diameter. A solid 12-oound iron ball of that diameter gives the cannon part of its name. The barrels are 60 inches long and made of bronze.
Sylvania's welcome center -- believed to be the nation's oldest continually operating roadside visitor center — celebrated its 50th birthday in January 2012. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places a month earlier.
According to a 2011 story in the Atlanta Constitution: The welcome center on U.S. 301 just below the South Carolina line includes bathrooms, picnic tables, maps of Georgia, brochures touting in-state destinations and respite from highway monotony. But those are just the expected offerings. This welcome center offers much more -- a window into Georgia's history, and a bit of its soul, as well as a reflection of the outside world's perception of the Deep South.
When it opened, in 1962, the center introduced backwards Georgia to a skeptical North. It may have been a way station on the road to Florida, but its space-age design, reams of information and helpful "hostesses" convinced many a traveler that maybe Georgia wasn't all that different from the rest of the country.
But I-95, which parallels 301, introduced speed, convenience and anomie to the time-challenged traveler. Fewer and fewer visitors stopped at the welcome center, particularly during the most recent recession. The ones that did were mostly older too.
(Fifty years later the welcome center) stands sentinel against the slow death of rural Georgia, a local institution that nurtures the region's economic health. And it offers not-so-lost travelers an oasis of calm and companionship in a world of iPhones, GPS and diesel-choked "travel plazas."
Read the entire story.
The Soda Shop -- a popular teen gathering spot in the '40s and '50s in downtown Sylvania -- is still here, but the renovated historic building is now the Soda Shop Art Gallery
The Soda Shop Gallery was established in August, 2005 through the vision of the Better Hometown Program. The purpose of the gallery is to showcase the varied talents of Screven County artists. This is a place artists can show and sell their art. Sylvania's first art gallery is located conveniently on the square in downtown Sylvania.
The gallery features Paintings, , sketches, photographs, greeting cards, cookbooks, local author books, woodwork(scrolled, bowls, vases, doll houses, wine bottle corks, ink pens etc.) stained glass and so much more!
113 N. Main Street in Sylvania, 912-564-7878
In terms of the "golden age" of highway motoring, US 301 is one of the most historic highways east of the Mississippi River. A journey down "ol' 301" is a trip back in time for those who have grown weary of the monotony of interstate highway travel and want to seek out routes that allow one to sample the flavor and diversity of the communities and cultures that made this country great. There is much to see and experience, but it can’t truly be experienced on the interstate.
This stretch of the highway diverges from Interstate 95 instead of directly paralleling it, providing a true alternative trip back through time for the adventurous traveler eager to experience “life in the not so fast lane.” Travel from Sylvania thru Statesboro, Claxton, Glennville, Ludowici, Jesup and Folkston to the Florida line.
US 301 is only 33 miles longer than the direct Interstate route – but a world apart, according to the website www.travelus301.com. A word of warning, though: it may take more than a little longer. For you may find yourself investigating the Dell Goodall house near Sylvania, Ga, the lone survivor of a long dead town some say was doomed by an itinerant preacher’s curse. You might want to pause for free juice and soda along with a helping of southern hospitality at the old Georgia Welcome Station, the oldest such center in the United States.
The Goodall home is located about six miles north of Sylvania on U. S. Highway 301. The house was built in 1815 for Seaborn Goodall, a prominent Jacksonborough resident and Clerk of Superior Court. It is all that remains of the former county seat of Screven County.
The survival of the house is significant because it is the only structure left standing in Old Jacksonborough. According to history, Jackonsonborough was destroyed because of a curse placed upon the town by Lorenzo Dow, an itinerant Methodist minister who was run out of town by the “Rowdies.” After being befriended by Seaborn Goodall, who gave Dow shelter for the night, the minister stopped on the bridge the next morning and asked God to place a curse upon the town with the exception of the Goodall home.
Within 20 years the town had ceased to exist. There were unexplained fires, mysterious winds that ripped roofs from houses, flash floods that emanated from the usually quiet creek. The curse was fulfilled by a variety of means, and the county seat was moved to Sylvania in 1847 after the town was virtually deserted. After 1870 the Goodall house belonged to the family of Dr. Julian P. Dell of Savannah, a retired Methodist Minister and has come to be known as the Dell-Goodall home.
Guided tours, conducted by volunteers from the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, are offered on the first Saturday of every month April through October, free (donations accepted).
Hwy. 301, St. Rt. 24 in Sylvania, 912-564-7554. More Information.
Samuel Manor founded the historic Wade Plantation in 1812. Manor was a revolutionary soldier and after the war, he moved from North Carolina to South Carolina. Here he met George and Mary Williamson and from them he purchased 2,523 acres of land on the Savannah River on the Georgia side. Maner moved to his Screven County property and named his new home Lebanon Forest.
The original plantation home built by Samuel Maner burned to the ground in 1844. Jesse Wade, who was born on Wade Plantation in 1851, who later inherited the plantation, built a new home using timber cut and sawed on Wade Plantation. Under Captain Wade's guidance, Wade Plantation grew and ginned its own cotton. Captain Wade built a plant on the plantation in which the cotton seed was converted into oil and meal. Fertilizer for new crops was was also prepared in this plant. He had a railroad constructed on the plantation to transport his cotton to the Savannah river where steamboats waited to take the loads to Savannah.
The Wade Plantation now covers more than 24,000 acres and is known for its pecans.
752 Oglethorpe Trail in Sylvania, 912-829-3391 or 800-414-7941. Visit Website.
A pivotal Georgia Revolutionary War battle was fought near Sylvania. A few miles past the Welcome Center is the intersection of 301 and Pine Grove Inn Road; turn left and drive approximately nine miles to the site of the Battle of Brier Creek, which secured the state of Georgia as an English colony for the remainder of the War for Independence. The exact number of patriots killed in the battle is unknown, but up to 200 are thought to have drowned in the nearby swamps while trying to retreat.
Screven Motor Speedway is a three-eighths-mile, semi-banked red clay oval located at the Screven County Motorsports Complex which includes a quarter mile drag strip. The track hosts action packed door-to-door dirt track racing every other Saturday during racing season.
at 6118 Savannah River Parkway in Sylvania, 9120228-5886, raceday 912-587-4884. Visit Website.
Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area is a 15,000-acres state-owned hunting and fishing preserve bordering the Savannah River east of Sylvania on Brannen's Bridge Road. The management area provides the public with year-round opportunities for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, bird watching, and horseback trails.
Wildlife includes deer, rurkey, small game, raccoon, opossum, fox, bobcat, dove and feral hogs. Fishing is also permitted. Alligator hunting is allowed on open archery deer hunting dates concurrent with the alligator season.
Four boat ramps are available at Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area to facilitate boat use in the Savannah River. Three campgrounds are available in the WMA, which are centrally and southernly located.
6199 Brannen's Bridge Rd. in Sylvania, 912-564-7878. More information.
Screven County is blessed with abundant waterways that provide visitors with fishing, boating, sightseeing and other water sport opportunities throughout the year. The Ogeechee River borders the county on the east, the Savannah River separates Screven County from South Carolina to the west and Briar Creek borders the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area.
Robbins Grist Mill is the only water-powered grist mill currently operating in Georgia. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. until noon on the first and third Saturdays of the month, between November and April. Established in 1805 and rebuilt in the 1950s this mill is ddicated to William H. Robbins and J. Patrick Brennan II whose dream was fulfilled when the mill was grinding and the grits and meal were falling.
5564 Savannah Highway in Sylvania, 912-857-3836
Built circa 1895, Kinchley Place is a Victorian home passed down through
generations of a longstanding Sylvania, Ga., family. After over two years
of painstaking and ongoing restoration, it stands today as an enduring
legacy to a more gracious time. We invite you to enjoy the luscious
grounds, exquisite architecture, and comfortable elegance of our piece of
history by booking your relaxing bed and breakfast stay (including an
outstanding gourmet breakfast) or event. Contact us today at (912) 425-2169
for room rates or custom planning services for your wedding, reception,
meeting, party or other special event. Whether staying overnight or hosting
an event, choose a special place - Kinchley Place."
Address: 309 Singleton Avenue, Sylvania, Georgia 30467
Phone: (912) 425-2169
Proprietors: Kathy Overstreet and Bob Owers
Director: John Halford
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KinchleyPlace
Web site: www.kinchleyplace.com
John Halford, Director
Information adapted from the state website www.exploregeorgia.org, the Sylvania-Screven County Chamber website and websites of invididual attractions and businesses.